Explore Milwaukee: Summerfest!

Exploring your city isn’t just about the cool places to go, though I talked about the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum last time, but it’s also about the awesome events that happen there.

So today I’m going to talk about Summerfest! It’s pretty well known in the area, but still. For purposes of this post and because I have a kid, a lot of what I am going to talk about has to do with the things that are more kid friendly. Summerfest is a HUGE event, so there is certainly more to do there than I could possibly mention.

But before I start this post, I want to give a shout out to My Milwaukee Mommy! I won the Summerfest tickets on her site and I was stoked for the chance to be able to go for free and to be able to take my sister-in-law, Annalies, with Dominic and me.

So what is Summerfest? Summerfest is this huge music festival held in Milwaukee every year. It’s tagline is the world’s largest music festival and it is definitely true. It is a lot of fun, for everyone, and I think there are good times to be had by all. It features a ton of bands, a ton of vendors, and a ton of fun food! Not pictured anywhere in this post was the GIANT turkey leg I had for mid-afternoon lunch/dinner. There are leftovers in my fridge, but it looks significantly less awesome now that I’ve eaten off of it. We also enjoyed some roasted nuts, some fresh lemonade, and some food samples. Among the food we sampled was gelato (I sampled sea salted caramel and strawberry cheesecake, both excellent, and Annalies sampled whiskey and sea salted caramel, which she also really liked), ICE sparkling water, Nature Valley granola bars (Dominic loved these and was very happy to munch on them all day), and Birds Eye skillet meals – which was a nice thing to sample because it was a little bit healthier and, of course, also delicious.

So if you are wondering how to get to Summerfest, you have a lot of options. You can of course drive or bike down there, but you can also take public transit. This is the option I would suggest. It was 6.50 per adult for a round trip and Dominic was free. We parked in a park and ride and then the bus took us right to the Summerfest gate! Annalies and I both agreed it was definitely worth it. Not only was it cheaper for the three of us, but it dropped us off near to the gate and we didn’t have to deal with the hassle of driving downtown and finding a parking spot which would have probably been not that close anyways for $$ because special event parking is always really expensive. I do have to say, it was quite an adventure though.

Bus selfie

Bus selfie 

Because our bus got stuck leaving the park and ride. Our bus driver thought he would just hop the curb. Umm yeah, see that wheel in the dirt there? That’s our bus, being quite stuck. The driver tried for a bit and then we all got off the bus and then one guy moved some dirt around and then finally the bus got unstuck and we were on our way to Summerfest. Let me tell you, I have seen a lot of things on public transportation in my day, but a bus getting stuck? That was definitely a first.

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Here’s the hole the wheel of the bus left

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Oh and before I get too much farther, I also have to give major props to my sister-in-law Annalies. My pelvis has started giving me a few issues lately being pregnant and so she wore Dominic for me when he wanted to be worn, which was most of the day. I really, really appreciated it. Also met someone else who knew what a Tula was, so that was exciting. And funniest reaction moment: one of the vendors had a total like freakout moment (in a funny way) after he had been talking to us for like 10 minutes and then realized that there was a kid on her back. It was hilarious, so hilarious.

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The festival grounds also have some playgrounds, which are great for little ones to run off some steam in a safe environment. Dominic loved running around and playing on them. Of course, he loves all playgrounds, but it’s nice to know that there are places for your littler ones to play if they need a safe place to just run out some energy. We didn’t last too long on the playground though, because it looked like it was going to storm.

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And storm it did. I don’t know if you can tell from this photo how hard it was raining, but it down poured for a little bit extremely hard. But in case you are wondering what to do if this happens to you, I don’t think you really have to fear the rain. There are plenty of places you can seek shelter from the rain if that happens to happen while you are at Summerfest. Many of the vendor tents have a roof over them and some of the stages do as well. The cool down lounge (where you can go if it gets too hot for some a/c) has a roof and a few of the restaurants do as well. It may take a little creativity but you can find a place to wait out the rain. Luckily for us, it didn’t last too long and the sun came out again after that. Just a little blip that seemed like it came out of nowhere. We enjoyed looking at all the interesting wares for sale though at Summerfest during the storm as we took shelter in a vendor tent. If you like to shop, there are certainly plenty of things you can buy at Summerfest – jewelry, purses, t-shirts, bags, custom items, dresses, and more. And of course, you can get cool face painting or hair coloring done as well.

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Summerfest has a lot of stages and there are so many different kinds of music. If you don’t like what’s playing on one stage, it’s not a problem, because there is probably something else playing on a different stage that you would like. This is just one of them where we stopped to listen to them play for a little while.

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There are also other performances off the stage, sometimes. I am pretty sure these qualify as street performers, so I don’t know if they were supposed to be there or not, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen them or someone similar at Summerfest or another similar festival, so you may see them too. These guys were very good at drumming on the buckets and Dominic was, of course, in love with their drumming because if you have spent even one day with my kid, you know this is a kid that loves to drum.

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In case you are wondering about kids’ activities, there is plenty for them to do. Kohl’s had some very awesome creative stations set up where the kids could make things. Here is Dominic painting a picture with watercolors – he loved that so much, because he also loves art a lot. It was hard to convince him that we eventually had to move on.

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Oh and big kids can make art too. Here’s Annalies working on her picture. Isn’t it great? I thought it was really beautiful and she wasn’t even done with it in this photo.

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There’s also a kids’ stage. Here is what we sat and watched on the kids’ stage – Pint Size Polkas. It was a lot of fun and Dominic really seemed to enjoy it. It’s great that they have one stage devoted just to kids stuff – it really makes going to the festival with kids more enjoyable.

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Here’s Dominic clapping along to the Pint Size Polkas! What fun, he really enjoyed their music, clapping and even dancing along towards the end.

Oh and you may notice he’s wearing a highly fashionable green wristband. That’s another thing that you might want to take note of if you have kids. Right by the main gate you can get a wristband for your kids in case you would happen to get separated. It has your name and your child’s name and your cell phone inside it. Even though I knew that Dominic would most likely be in the Tula for a lot of the afternoon, since he typically just wants to snuggle if we go places during his nap time and he doesn’t get a nap, I still liked having the wristband on him and it didn’t bother him at all.

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Here’s Dominic’s finished painting and a guitar keychain he colored as well. He really enjoyed the art, like I said.

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And if you know me, you know that I also love free. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the free stuff we got, in addition to the food samples. I know these things are common at larger festivals and such, but I don’t think I quite went to as many booths and such the last couple of times that I’ve gone. Some of it was just general freebies, other ones we won (that stuffed animal in the back and the pizza cutter, for example, Annalies won, but wanted Dominic to have the stuffed animal and I traded her a lip balm I won for the pizza cutter because ours is falling apart). So much free stuff I couldn’t even fit it all in one picture, so there’s a second picture of the free stuff below.
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There’s also opportunities for you to take fun pictures with different backgrounds, sometimes for free stuff, sometimes just because. Here’s one we took at the ICE tent, which we went to a couple of time for the free drinks. This photo got us the free bag you see in the picture above. Will photo for free stuff I guess haha 😉

All in all, we had a great day! I highly recommend Summerfest, it’s great fun for the whole family! Dominic had a blast and so did we! Summerfest is running through July 6th and you can find more info on their website here. And of course, if you can’t make it this year, you can always go next year. If you are planning on going, may I also suggest that you check out the admission promotions page? It’s a great way to find out when you can get in at a discounted rate or even for free. Tomorrow (June 29th) for example, you can get in free with a donation of 3 non-perishable food items. It’s limited to the first 2,500 and it benefits the Hunger Task Force. It’s really a win-win, free admission and collecting food to help our community. Be sure to check out that page for promotions for other days as well!

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